The Washington Post recently ran a story quoting Democrats as bragging that President Obama has deliberately patterned his legislative strategy after LBJ’s, circa 1965.This may explain the treatment of Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the supposedly nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office who last week told Congress that you can’t “save” money on health care by having government insure everyone.
For that bit of truth-telling, he was first excoriated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Then he was summoned, er, invited to the White House for an extraordinary and inappropriate meeting Monday with President Obama and a phalanx of economic and health-care advisers.
Writing on his blog after news of the meeting became public, Mr. Elmendorf diplomatically noted that “The President asked me and outside experts for our views about achieving cost savings in health reform.” No doubt he did. But Mr. Elmendorf, a Democrat, will also have received the message that continuing apostasy will not be good for his future political career.
As Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the Republican who ran CBO from 2003 to 2005, put it, “The only appearance could be that they’re leaning on him. CBO was created for Congress, for independent analysis. The White House did him [Elmendorf] a terrible disservice.” On second thought, perhaps we’re being unfair to LBJ, whose method was a combination of muscle and flattery. Mr. Obama learned his methods in Chicago.
Welcome to the United States, circa Berlin 1932 or circa Moscow, Russia 1947.